Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Not in favour of total lockdown but will consider harsh measures if situation doesn’t improve: PUNJAB CM

Even as he made it clear that he was not in favour of a complete and harsh lockdown, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Monday warned people against laxity in adherence to the curbs imposed in the state, and said if the situation did not improve he would be forced to consider a total lockdown.

The Chief Minister said he had so far refrained from ordering a sweeping lockdown in the state because it will hurt the poor the most and would lead to exodus of migrant labourers, plunging industries into chaos again. However, if the people do not stringently comply with the restrictions in place, harsher steps might have to be taken, he added.

The state is currently in a soft lockdown situation, with strong curbs in place, with additional restrictions imposed by the government on Sunday. DGP Dinkar Gupta told the meeting that all measures were being taken to enforce the current curbs strictly.

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Chairing a high-level virtual meeting to review the Covid situation, the Chief Minister today also ordered a stop on all take-away deliveries from restaurants, which was being used by youngsters as a pretext to move out of their homes. Only home deliveries of food should be allowed, he directed the officials. He, however, gave permission for shops selling fertilisers to be open.

Asserting that he will not allow Punjab to go the way of some other states, where patients could be seen lying out on the roads, Chief Minister said Industry should be encouraged to use their CSR funds for vaccination and treatment of their labour suffering from mild or moderate illness, so that they can stay at home, thus reducing pressure on hospitals.

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Underlining the need to step up preparedness amid projections of a peak in the coming days, the Chief Minister ordered 20% increase in bed capacity in the next 10 days. He directed the Health and Medical Education departments to get stadiums, gymnasiums and other such places ready to house patients. Tented camps should be set up, and gyms/halls should be converted into L2 and L3 facilities, he said, adding that “we have to be prepared for the worst.” He also directed use of staff from rural development and other departments to augment the workforce for tracing of Covid contacts in rural areas.

The directives came as Health Minister Balbir Sidhu said the situation was grim with only 300 beds now available at L3 level in the state. Hospitals were getting overwhelmed, he added.

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